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Take this Job. Please.

September 20, 2011

I really want something to happen with the President’s job bill.  Not sure I want it passed as is; not sure I want it watered down.  I just want action.  And I really dread the thought of watching endless debates and partisan bickering while Americans are out of work, commerce is at a stand still and we fall further behind.

One of the provisions in the Jobs Bill is called “Bridge to Work” and would provide people who’ve been unemployed for more than 6 months the option to go to work at a company for up to 8 weeks (sans pay) in exchange for getting some job-training/updated skills.  The upside, of course, is this can provide a boost to the resumes of those who participate.  Folks who are leery of it think it will do nothing more than provide ‘cheap’ labor for evil Corporations…leaving the unlucky job seeker with nothing to really show at the end of their indentured servitude ‘job.’

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Eons ago, when working in the financial industry, I participated in a grant funded program that was operated by a consortium of local non-profit agencies.  The program was focused on moving single parents (primarily moms) from welfare to work and focused on the FIRE industries; Finance, Insurance and Real Estate.  The program participants were of all ages and were, in addition to trying to support their families on AFDC (now TANF), generally under-educated and lacking basic job skills or work experience.  But they were eager and willing and incredibly hopeful that the FIRE program would be a success.

For a period of about 3 months the participants attended life skills and job-readiness training; content ranged from learning basic math to polishing writing skills to keyboarding and 10-key skills (note – this was the type of technology available back in the day).  Meanwhile, the NFP Agencies recruited the employers.

We on the employer side were asked to provide as many 2 month ‘internships’ as possible at our organizations.  In addition to providing ongoing support and transportation assistance, the NFP Agencies supplied job coaches who checked in daily with both the interns and their managers.  Ideally, we were told, the participants would be well-suited to their roles, the placements would be successful and we could ultimately offer regular (full-time with benefits) jobs at the end of the program.

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Now I’m not going to tell you it was all sunshine and teddy bears, because it wasn’t.  I so believed in this program but TPTB at my organization (also known as the dudes who signed the checks) thought it was a bit too feel-good and unnecessary – you know, typical HR stuff (cough cough).  So I used my fledgling HR-chick-influence skills while still the lowest one on the totem pole, rallied some hiring managers to my cause, and convinced TPTB to let me give it a try.
We ran the cycle three times, bringing 3 interns on board from each program class for a total of 9 interns/participants.  A few couldn’t cut it; family issues, lack of interest, poor skills and transportation problems caused a few of them to drop out over the course of their time with our group.  A few of them used the program for its intended purpose – got some much needed experience and landed jobs closer to home with different companies.  But we managed to hire several of the participants and they moved right over from their FIRE internship to being full-time members of our team.  After one year, Ann was promoted.  I later heard, after I left the organization, that she was promoted again…and became a supervisor.

A happy ending for Ann.  And a definite win for my organization.

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Will “Bridge to Work” or any other provisions of whatever is ultimately passed lead to happy endings?  Will it lead to WINS?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 20, 2011 6:42 am

    Thanks a thoughtful article and it always seems difficult to take something for nothing! Yet gems come out of these programs.

  2. September 20, 2011 9:56 am

    Great Post… I am truly loving your blogs!

  3. September 20, 2011 10:08 am

    It’s about people making their own breaks. I like the concept. Instead of sitting home watching Jerry Springer why not do something to better your resume, learn a new skill, make yourself marketable. Heck if you really impress the company why would they not hire you? I see no downside to this, unless you have unmotivated people wanting something given to them. If you are off work and have a chance to better yourself for free then you should jump at it, the feds need to focus on helping people help themselves. Not just taking care of those who are unwilling to make an effort to better themselves. I hope it happens.

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